Title: Is There Space to Support Socio-Emotional Wellbeing in Primary School? Confronting a Three-Headed Monster of Competing Priorities
Stream: Primary & Secondary Education
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Rebecca Page, Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom
With the detrimental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic deepening existing concerns about children’s mental health in England, there are increasing calls for schools to support children’s wellbeing. Yet, whilst many teachers see this as part of their role, conflicting discourses can be sources of tension exerting pressure to prioritise measurable academic outcomes, resulting in uncertainty about what the role of a primary school teacher is. This doctoral research study will seek teachers’ perspectives of how they see their role and whether they feel there is space within the current education culture to support socio-emotional wellbeing in primary school. It aims to identify and address areas of tension for teachers and attempt to reconcile the competing discourses regarding their role. This presentation introduces the study at the stage of conceptual framework development as empirical data has not yet been collected. It introduces the concept of a three-headed monster of competing discourses regarding the priorities for schools and discusses where there is tension with the discourse prioritising wellbeing within the current policy context. It also introduces the theoretical framework for the study of teacher identity and discourse analysis and discusses how the three-headed monster constructs three different identities for teachers: the teacher as transmitter of knowledge, the teacher as authority figure and the teacher as supporter of wellbeing. The ongoing discussion regarding education recovery provides an important opportunity to address areas of tension for teachers and to consider how the three-headed monster can be reconciled as we move forward post-pandemic.
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